Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Original article
Forming new sex partnerships while overseas: findings from the third British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes & Lifestyles (Natsal-3)
  1. Clare Tanton1,
  2. Anne M Johnson1,
  3. Wendy Macdowall2,
  4. Jessica Datta2,
  5. Soazig Clifton1,3,
  6. Nigel Field1,
  7. Kirstin R Mitchell2,4,
  8. Kaye Wellings2,
  9. Pam Sonnenberg1,
  10. Catherine H Mercer1
  1. 1Research Department of Infection & Population Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Social & Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3NatCen Social Research, London, UK
  4. 4MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Clare Tanton, Research Department of Infection & Population Health, University College London, 3rd floor Mortimer Market Centre, off Capper Street, London WC1E 6JB, UK; c.tanton{at}


Objectives Travelling away from home presents opportunities for new sexual partnerships, which may be associated with sexually transmitted infection (STI) risk. We examined the prevalence of, and factors associated with, reporting new sexual partner(s) while overseas, and whether this differed by partners’ region of residence.

Methods We analysed data from 12 530 men and women aged 16–74 years reporting ≥1 sexual partner(s) in the past 5 years in Britain's third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3), a probability survey undertaken 2010–2012.

Results 9.2% (95% CI 8.3% to 10.1%) of men and 5.3% (4.8% to 5.8%) of women reported new sexual partner(s) while overseas in the past 5 years. This was strongly associated with higher partner numbers and other sexual and health risk behaviours. Among those with new partners while overseas, 72% of men and 58% of women reported partner(s) who were not UK residents. Compared with those having only UK partners while abroad, these people were more likely to identify as ‘White Other’ or ‘Non-White’ (vs White British ethnicity), report higher partner numbers, new partners from outside the UK while in the UK and paying for sex (men only) all in the past 5 years. There was no difference in reporting STI diagnosis/es during this time period.

Conclusions Reporting new partners while overseas was associated with a range of sexual risk behaviours. Advice on sexual health should be included as part of holistic health advice for all travellers, regardless of age, destination or reason for travel.


This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from

Supplementary materials

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles